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Training for the Boston Marathon and First Female Runners of the Boston Marathon | Image Courtesy of Malik Skysgaard via Unsplash
Training for the Boston Marathon and First Female Runners of the Boston Marathon | Image Courtesy of Malik Skysgaard via Unsplash

Road to Boston Marathon Part 1

A Tribute to the First Female Runners

On April 18, 2022 I am excited and grateful to be able to run the historic and prestigious Boston Marathon! As a physical therapist at Fusion Wellness /Femina Physical Therapy and avid long-distance runner for over 20 years, I’m excited to share my training journey with you leading up to the race. This race holds a special place in the hearts of long-distance runners because you must run a qualifying race with a qualifying time. Females ages 18-34 must run 3 hours 30 minutes or better, and males ages 18-34 must run 3 hours flat or better.

My most recent qualifying race was California International Marathon (CIM) in Sacramento, all the way back in December 2019! Due to the Covid pandemic, the majority of running races in 2020 and 2021 had been postponed or canceled, and they accepted qualifying entries back to 2019. Normally, I would compete in marathons and ultra-marathons throughout the year, but due to the risks of COVID, I refrained from competing for the past two years. In runner time, that feels like a lifetime! Being able to run any distance, like any other endurance sport and fitness in general, is use it or lose it.

Over the course of the past three months, I have steadily been getting back into marathon shape since my racing hiatus. There are several major components to training:

  • Running (go figure!) this includes speed-work
  • Hill training (hill repeats), long runs
  • Tempo runs at 10 km pace or faster
  • Strength, endurance, and dynamic balance training (see Part 2 in this series)
  • And lastly (but just as important) is recovery! (see Part 3)

At the beginning, I felt the sluggishness of not training seriously for two years. During 2019 and 2020 I kept my overall running mileage at about 15-25 miles per week for mental well-being, stress relief, and physical health during 2020 and 2021, but I had not kept up with the speed-work, hill repeats, tempo runs, and long runs that are crucial to running a fast and strong race. Over the course of the next few weeks leading up to the race, I will share my journey to the Boston Marathon with you, detailing my conditioning and strengthening, as well as how I recover after all those fast or long runs!

A little history about the race itself

The Boston Marathon was inspired by the spirit of the Olympic Marathon based on the Greek story of Pheidippides who ran 24-miles from the Greek city of Marathon to Athens with news of a victory over a Persian army. The first Boston Marathon was on April 19, 1897 (Patriot’s Day).

What may be lesser-known is that the Boston Athletic Association (also known as B.A.A., the race organizers) did not permit females to register or run the race until 1971! Trailblazer Roberta Gibb unofficially ran the race for three years from 1966 to 1968 by hiding in the bushes near the starting line without an official race number. Another trailblazer, Katherine Switzer, officially registered under the name K. Switzer, and ran in sweatpants and a baggy sweatshirt the entire race so as to dissuade officials from noticing that she was female. The first official female finisher of the Boston Marathon was Nina Kuscsik in 1972, the year the B.A.A. permitted females to register for the race.

As I toe the line on April 19, I will do so with the respect, admiration, and gratitude to the females who came before me and put it all on the line to be able to participate in endurance racing.

Source:

https://www.baa.org/races/boston-marathon/history

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Testimonial by Amanda W.

Heather's unique physical therapy program literally changed my life! After years of struggling with vaginismus, a condition that made it impossible for me to have intercourse and very difficult to use tampons without pain, a gynecologist referred me to Heather. I was nervous for my first appointment, but Heather's professional and friendly demeanor put me at ease. She did a great job explaining each technique she was using to help my muscles relax. Heather uses a combination of internal and external stretches and exercises to relax the pelvic floor and build muscle strength. Her specially developed home program helped me quickly recover from an issue that seemed insurmountable before meeting Heather. She was optimistic about my progress and incredibly encouraging. Less than 6 months after my first session, I was able to have pain-free sex for the first time in my life! If you are suffering from vaginismus or any other pelvic floor issues, I highly recommend making an appointment with Heather and reading her book!

-- Amanda W., 2/15/16 via Yelp!

Testimonial by P.M.

I was hopeful but frankly skeptical when the doctor treating me for Interstitial Cystitis recommended that I go to Heather for physical therapy. Medication and diet helped control my IC symptoms, but I had never heard of physical therapy being used to treat IC. The education and treatment I received from Heather was a revelation. She explained that the pain I experienced with IC had helped create a cycle of muscle guarding which affected the entire pelvic area. I had no idea of the amount of tension being held there. No wonder my husband and I had not been able to have sexual intercourse for years!

Read more: Testimonial by P.M.

Testimonial by M.M.

A personal journey and testimonial from one of my patients:

My husband and I were married for 5 years before we were able to have intercourse due to my vaginismus. There was nothing traumatic in my past but for some reason, even though I wanted sex, I mentally avoided "that area" of my body and didn't even admit to myself that there was a problem for a long time, even though I was never able to put tampons in. Once I finally opened my eyes up to the fact that I had a problem, I had a surgery that was supposed to fix the issue.

Read more: Testimonial by M.M.

Testimonial by T.C.

While pregnant with my twins, Heather took care with keeping me on my feet and pain free. She saved my back, my sanity and the holidays! I would recommend her to every “mom” looking to stay on her feet during pregnancy and post-partum.

-- T.C.

Testimonial by S.H., age 24

I just wanted to thank you for everything you've done for me for the past 19 months. I literally could not have reached my goals without you and your practice. You gave me the courage to keep moving forth with my treatment no matter how afraid and anxious I was. You were always there to answer questions and made this whole process so much easier than I expected it to be.

It's because of you that my marriage is on the right track, that I can get pregnant and that this part of my life is finally over. I really feel that Fusion Wellness is a team of people you can call family and are there to root for you and cheer you on until you reach your goals. There is nothing better than knowing I accomplished this with you guys by my side and as calmly and patiently as I needed. Thank you from the bottom of my heart for always being there and helping me reach my goals.

S.H., age 24

Testimonial by Rosanna R., age 35

Heather has affected my life in the MOST POSITIVE way and I am forever grateful. My husband refers to her as the "sex doctor" so you can only imagine how happy he is with my therapy outcome.

After the birth of my son I suffered from "Vaginismus", however, at the time I just thought I was broken. My "broken vagina" affected me physically but it was an emotional struggle as well. Many women in my life also suffered with pain from sex after their babies were born so I knew I wasn't alone. They told me they "just got used to it" but I couldn't see myself living that way.

Sex wasn't just painful, it was literally impossible - IT DIDNT FIT!

Read more: Testimonial by Rosanna R.,...

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